Cory Booker and T-Bone: real or fake?
US Senate candidate and media favorite Cory Booker often gave stump speeches that included dramatic anecdotes about a charismatic man named T-Bone.
T-Bone is or was a drug dealer form the Newark, New Jersey, underworld that threatened Booker’s life but that he also befriended. No one was able to locate T-Bone, however. In 2007, Booker, the mayor of Newark, described T-Bone as “1,000 percent a real person.”
According to Rutgers University historian Clement Price, Booker, a Democrat, admitted that it was made up even though Booker insisted in the past that T-Bone was legit. Price, a Booker supporter, told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that Booker conceded in 2008 that T-Bone didn’t really exist and the politician had made a mistake of claiming otherwise.
A Newark union activist and Booker critic told the Star-Ledger that “he was baffled Booker used the character in the first place, except that it may have appealed to donors.”
According to the National Review, Price found the T-Bone narrative offensive because it “pandered to a stereotype of inner-city black men.”
Further from the National Review Cory Booker-T-Bone story: “Price considers himself a mentor and friend to Booker and says Booker conceded to him in 2008 that T-Bone was a ‘composite’ of several people he’d met while living in Newark. The professor describes a ‘tough conversation’ in which he told Booker ‘that I disapproved of his inventing such a person.’ “
In a very long winded and somewhat confusing response published today in the Washington Post, Booker seems to be once again claiming that T-Bone is real, however, and blamed the controversy on the cynical press, even though his prominence is primarily related to to fawning media coverage.
Booker, a “political celebrity,” is expected to easily win the October 16 special election to fill the vacancy in the US Senate as a result of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s passing. Given that New Jersey is a blue state, the T-Bone issue probably will be a non-factor in terms of Booker’s election prospects.